From 19th century composer Chopin to current chart-topping artist P!nk, singer-songwriter Levi Stephens’s musical tastes are as varied as his influences, who mainly consist of classic singer-songwriters such as Stevie Wonder, Prince, John Mayer, and Dave Matthews. With roots in R&B and soul, Levi draws from all of his influences, and his resulting sound is an eclectic mix of rock, folk, and blues.
Levi grew up singing in church and choir. About 9 years ago, he picked up the guitar, which remains the principal instrument he plays in his songs. But Levi also plays piano, bass, and ukulele. Growing up, Levi was exposed to a huge variety of music by his father, who was also a musician and a pianist.
Levi’s love for music led to studying it in college. He had decided right after high school to pursue music as a career. His advice for those who also want to pursue music is to get as much information as possible about the different fields in the music industry and to be as well educated as one can on what it is one wants to do.
“There are multiple fields in the music industry, but a lot of people tend to think that it’s very narrow, that you’re either performing or singing or playing an instrument of some kind. But writing is a big avenue. Do you want to be an artist on the main stage, a session player, a writer, or a producer? You can orchestrate and bring in musicians,” he says. And individuality and honesty is important. “Always find your own voice. Never settle to be the cookie cutter or do what everyone else is doing…You really really have to fight for your own individuality…That’s what separates you…just staying true and being honest in what you are and what you want to say.”
And honesty is what Levi always conveys through his music. He writes about real situations, things that he feels people can identify with, and he hopes that listeners can walk away from his music having a better understanding of what they are going through in their own lives.
The process of creating a song happens differently every time for Levi. Sometimes he is able to come up with song ideas before he gets to the studio. Other times he has to start and finish songs in the certain amount of time he has at the studio, which often happens when he is writing for another artist. “There’s no time to light candles and try to meditate on songs, you just gotta sit there and grind out a song,” he says about these situations. When writing his own material, however, Levi says he is really meticulous about what he says lyrically, and takes his time.
Major artists Levi would love to work with are Stevie Wonder, P!nk, Prince, John Mayer, and Dave Matthews.
Levi is a professed movie buff and also loves sports. When asked what he would be if he wasn’t a musician, he joked, “a tiger,” before responding, “a marine biologist. Seriously. Because I love aquariums. I love fish.”
Be sure to check out his first album This Way. Songs off the album Levi really recommends are “I Love You,” “Sorry For The Pain,” “Nashville,” and “When I’m Rich.”